I love Christmas ornaments. I especially love making Christmas ornaments with my kids every year. It’s a fun tradition we value as a family, and our tree is filled with fun memories. Ornaments are also a fabulous way for kids to give gifts. When your child makes and gives an ornament, he’s able to feel like he’s actually giving the gift.
Since our move to a coastal town this year, I’ve been itching to make some sand dollar ornaments, and Christmas seems like the perfect time to do so! These sand dollar ornaments are quick and easy for kids to do. They focus on the Star of Bethlehem form Matthew 2:2 (also called the Christmas Star), and I’ve included some free printable gift tags for your kids to color. The printable gift tags also focus on Matthew 2:2 and are available in ESV or KJV.
Christmas Star of Bethlehem
Matthew 2:1-12 tells the story of the wise men (or magi) and the Christmas Star of Bethlehem. I encourage you to read the story of the wise men to your children before you begin the craft. The story is included in days 17 and 18 of the advent readings on the printable advent calendar as well.
Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV) says:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
The star wasn’t really the Christmas star, or the Star of Bethlehem. It was Jesus’ star, announcing the coming of the King of the Jews so loudly that even pagan wise men from the east could hear it.
The Prophecy About the Star of Bethlehem
Numbers 24:17a,b prophecies:
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel…
It was the sorcerer Balaam who prophesied those words. Prince Balak of Moab, the son of the King of Moab, paid Balaam to come and curse the Israelites as they were wandering around in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Balaam set out to do so and an angel barred his way. Though Balaam couldn’t see the angel, his donkey could. Balaam beat the poor animal until it spoke to him (that would freak me out, but it didn’t seem to phase Balaam). At this point the angel appeared and told Balaam he was to speak only the words God gave him over the Israelites. Balaam blessed them three times–much to the chagrin of Prince Balak! (Read the whole account in Numbers 22-24).
The Wise Men and the Christmas Star
Anyway, back in Matthew 2:1-12, the wise men saw the Star of Bethlehem and set out to worship the King of the Jews. They aren’t sure where he is, so they stop by King Herod’s palace. I guess they figured the Roman overseer must know about the birth of the King of the Jews. Herod calls together the Jewish priests and scribes and asks them where the Messiah is going to be born. They know all about this because of writings by the prophets Micah and Ezekiel. So, they send the wise men off to Bethlehem.
The wise men follow the “Christmas Star” to Bethlehem and find Jesus with his mother Mary. They fall down and worship him. And they give him the gold, frankincense, and myrrh they brought as gifts. Because you give gifts to a king!
The wise men didn’t know they were worshiping the King of the Universe, but they knew Jesus was important.
The Jewish chief priests and scribes knew the prophecies surrounding the Messiah (the Christ), and sent the wise men to see Jesus, yet they didn’t care to worship him themselves. Instead, they had him crucified three years into his ministry. (Mark 14:53-65)
King Herod hated the idea of the King of the Jews so much he tried to convince the wise men to betray baby Jesus. When that failed, he murdered every boy two years and under in the entire region of Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:13-18)
The Star of Bethlehem is a reminder to us that God has made his plan for salvation and the identity of Jesus Christ clear in Scripture. There are no neutral reactions to Jesus–only worship or hatred. May we worship him truly.
Christmas Star of Bethlehem Sand Dollar Ornaments
Check out this quick video showing you how to assemble your sand dollar ornaments:
Christmas Star of Bethlehem Printable Gift Tags
You’ll find the the download registration for the Printable Gift Tags right below this sentence! These gift tags are FREE to Thinking Kids newsletter subscribers.
- I recommend printing these gift tags on white cardstock so they’ll be durable and stiff. This is my very favorite cardstock: Neenah Premium Cardstock.
- You’ll need to cut out the gift tags. I cut around them, leaving a small white margin. I don’t suggest trying to cut on the line. This is something your kids can do!
Supplies Needed to Make Your Christmas Star of Bethlehem Sand Dollar Ornaments
You’ll need a few supplies to make your sand dollar ornaments. You may have a few of these items already. If not, these are all fairly inexpensive and will serve you well for multiple projects.
Sand DollarsNylon Hair Brush SetFolkArt Multi-Surface Paint in YellowApple Barrel Acrylic Paint BlackHot Glue Gun with 25pcs Glue Sticks8-Inch Straight ScissorRed Moire Christmas Ribbon with Wire – 3” X 50 Yds Shiny Red 3IN Width Ribbon w/ Wired-Edge Make Excellent Bows and Gift Wrap Presents and Gifts Holiday Winter Ribbon 50 YardsNeenah Bright White Card Stock, 65lb1-Hole PunchCrayola 8 Pack Ultra-Clean Fine Line Washable Markers, Classic ColorsBlack 2mm x 100 yards Rattail Satin Nylon Trim Cord Chinese KnotRust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 White Water-Based Primer
Creating Your Star of Bethlehem Ornaments
1) Prime Your Sand Dollar Ornaments
- It seals them so they cannot grow fungus or mold.
- It creates a surface that will hold paint rather than absorb paint.
- It makes the sand dollars sturdier.
When I was studying art in college, our professors taught us that preparing the surface you’re going to paint is as important as the painting!
If you’re using collected sand dollars, I suggest bleaching and drying them before priming to kill any organisms that may have hitched a ride on your shells. I use just a splash of bleach in a gallon of water to avoid making the sand dollars any more brittle than they already are. If you’re purchasing sand dollars, you won’t need to bleach them. They’ve already been treated.
2) Print Your Advent Calendar & Cut Everything Out
3) Add Ribbon and Color to Your Printable Gift Tags
Punch a hole in the top of each gift tag where the small circle is.
3) Paint a Manger and a Christmas Star of Bethlehem
Your child can now paint the manger, stable, and the Christmas Star on the primed sand dollars. I chose to make the painting stylized so it would be quick and simple for your children. I gave the ornaments an Eastern Asian flair as well. While Jesus was born in the Ancient Near East, the wise men came from even further east.
4) Glue Ribbon to Your Sand Dollar Ornaments
Cut about 16 inches of a wire-edged ribbon. Continuing the eastern flair, I chose red.
Fold your ribbon into a loop. Use a hot glue gun to make an X with hot glue on the back of your sand dollar. Carefully apply the ribbon and use a craft stick to press the ribbon onto the glue.
Give Your Christmas Star of Bethlehem Sand Dollar Ornaments as Gifts
Take a picture of your Star of Bethlehem ornaments and of your printable gift tags and share them on social media with the hashtag #BibleRoadTrip. You can tag me as well! I’d love to reshare it. I’m on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also share it in the Bible Crafts for Kids community on Facebook.
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